Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Scariest Movie Scenes

Tina's death in A Nightmare on Elm Street
In honour of Halloween: The 13 movie scenes that, at one time or another, scared the living crap out of me.

A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
The premise: A long-dead serial murderer haunts the dreams of the children whose parents were members of the lynch mob that hunted him down.
The scene: Rod (Jsu Garcia) witnesses his girlfriend Tina (Amanda Wyss) meet a grisly end as she's dragged across the ceiling of her bedroom by an unseen force.

Lost Highway (1997)
The premise: A saxophonist is framed for the murder of his wife and sent to prison where he transforms into a young mechanic and starts his life afresh.
The scene: The Mystery Man (Robert Blake) confronts Fred (Bill Pullman) at a party and convinces him to phone his own house. When Fred obliges he hears the voice of the Mystery Man pick up his home phone, even though he's standing right in front of him.

Nosferatu (1922)
The premise: This silent classic chronicles the strange life of the vampire Count Orlok.
The scene: In a chilling example of German Expressionism at its finest, Count Orlok makes his way slowly up the staircase -- while the audience sees only his distorted shadow on the wall.

Silence of the Lambs (1991)
The premise: An FBI rookie must work with the infamous Hannibal Lecter in order to catch another killer on the loose.
The scene: Clarice (Jodie Foster) confronts Jame Gumb (Ted Levine) in his basement -- only to find herself abandoned in pitch black darkness as Jame follows her around with night-vision goggles.

Scream (1996)
The premise: A group of teenagers discuss the "rules" of horror films as students at their high school are systematically killed off one-by-one by a masked killer known as Ghostface.
The scene: The chilling opening sequence where Drew Barrymore receives harassing phone calls from an unknown assailant who quizzes her about her favourite horror films -- before brutally murdering her.

Halloween (1978)
The premise: A masked psychopath breaks out of an institution and stalks a teenage girl from his small hometown.
The scene: After emerging victorious from a faceoff with Michael Myers (Tony Moran), Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis) breathes a sigh of relief -- while the seemingly dead Michael slowly sits up behind Laurie's shoulder.

The Exorcist (1973)
The premise: When a twelve-year-old girl is possessed by the devil, her mother enlists the help of two priests.
The scene: After stabbing herself in the crotch with a crucifix, Regan (Linda Blair) faces the audience by enabling her head to do a 360-degree spin.
The Exorcist III
The Exorcist III (1990)
The premise: A police officer respectfully acknowledges the anniversary of a priests death while, at the same time, trying to track down a vicious serial killer.
The scene: A nurse in a hospital checks a couple of rooms during a night shift when, in a genuine jump-out-of-your-skin moment, she's followed out of a room by a white-shrouded intruder.

The Thing (1982)
The premise: Scientists in the Antarctic discover a shape-shifting alien that takes on the appearance of its victims.
The scene: The alien, in human form, fakes a heart attack and, while the scientists scramble to save who they assume is their comrade, they are confronted with "the thing" itself in a shocking, terrifying, pre-CGI sequence.

The Shining (1980)
The premise: A family agrees to watch over a hotel that is closed for the winter season when an unseen force influences the father, pushing him to the edge of insanity.
The scene: While most would cite the twins in the hallway as the scariest sequence, there's also the simplistic slow zoom-in on Jack Nicholson's face looking out the hotel window as he slowly dissolves into madness.

Psycho (1960)
The premise: A young woman on the run stays at the isolated Bates Motel and meets the mother-fearing, socially inept owner.
The scene: No, not the shower sequence although that's terrifying in its own right. Lila Crane (Vera Miles) searches the Bates house for her missing sister (Janet Leigh), only to be confronted by the corpse of Mrs. Bates -- right before Norman (Anthony Perkins) bursts in to the room wearing a woman's wig and dress.

Jurassic Park (1993)
The premise: An ambitious millionaire creates a dinosaur theme park and, during a preview tour, a massive power outtage enables the prehistoric animals to rule the island.
The scene: A thunderstorm. A glass of water, trembling with each footstep. A T-Rex bites through an electrical fence and proceeds to attack the tourist cars.

Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962)
The premise: A former child star jealously guards her more-famous older sister in a rundown mansion.
The scene: When wheelchair-bound Blanche (Joan Crawford) crawls her way to the telephone to make an emergency call, Jane (Bette Davis) discovers her calling for help and violently kicks her around the room.


  1. Excellent choices! Among my personal favourite scary scenes are:

    -The blood test in "The Thing". There's so much suspense due to the intense mistrust going on in both the movie and the audience of each character; it could be anyone, and lo and behold the one you DON'T expect is horribly revealed to be The Thing.

    -Reverend Harry Powell from "Night of the Hunter". One of the most terrifying villains ever, due to the lengths he'll go to get a sum of money... including chasing down two children and marrying then murdering their mother.

    -The final attack in "The Birds". Unrealistic as it may be, the images in this scene are downright terrifying; the birds breaking through wood with their beaks and biting Tippi Hedren; a scene so terrifying in its design that filming the scene required that Hedren get psychological assistance afterwards.

    1. Yes, it was a toss-up between the blood test scene and the heart attack scene. I only went with the latter because I remember it actually made me gasp out loud (really, really loud) when the defibulator (sp) actually sinks into the guys chest. Yuck.

      I've never seen Night of the Hunter, so I'll have to look that one up!

      As for The Birds, I remember liking it but I saw it when I was about 12 and I'm pretty sure I've never seen it again. Time for a rewatch, I think.